Book Review: What Would Jesus Deconstruct?

We read What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church by John Caputo in my postmodern theology class as I mentioned in an earlier post. Caputo takes a very interesting approach with this book, by looking deeply at the popular phrase, “What Would Jesus Do?” Instead of playing of what the culture has created it to be, Caputo goes back to the book that coined this phrase, In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon. From here, he examines what this truth is that Jesus brings and the role that deconstruction plays in truth. “In a deconstruction, our lives, our beliefs, and our practices are not destoryed but forced to reform and reconfigure – which is risky business. In the New Testament this is called metanoia, or undergoing a fundamental change of heart.” I really don’t know that many people who would not want this to take place in their lives, no matter how modern or postmodern they may be. This is what we are always seeking – to become more and more conformed to the image of Christ, an imitator of Him, and salt and light to the world. He goes on to explore the paths we may take on this faith journey. Consider this quote: “In deconstruction, to be under way is neither a matter of following a well-marked way . . . nor a matter of setting out on more uncharted forest paths. Rather, it is a matter of following paths that have been so heavily traveled that there is a confusing plethora of tracks and we are not sure whose steps are whose.” In the last part of the book, he addresses the question the title of the book poses and looks at the lives of a couple of people who are embodying this gospel today.

At times the book is very philosophical, to the point you may have to read something several times, and yet, come to the realization that you have no idea what he just said. More numerous, however, are the times when Caputo is comprehendable. It is in these nuggets of poetic mastery that deconstruction begins to come together, not only in your mind, but also in the world in which we reside. Caputo makes accesible philosopher’s works that we would never dream of comprehending, or reading for that matter. At the same time though, he does not shy away from the practical side, the side that addresses the good news that deconstruction and postmodernism may actually hold for the church.

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